New Silkroutes Group (NSG), which ex-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong’s son serves as chief executive and executive director, has stepped up to back the latter despite him being served with a lawsuit. The lawsuit is brought by Inter-Pacific Petroleum’s (IPP) judicial managers due to US$156 million (S$212.6 million) in losses stemming from an alleged breach of director’s duties.
On Tuesday (Oct 6), the Straits Times reported that the nominating committee and the board of New Silkroutes Group said that they are of the view that Dr Goh Jin Hian – who is the company’s non-independent non-executive chairman – is suitable to continue as director as the action is a civil suit against Dr Goh and, based on legal advice of his lawyers, the allegations are without merit.
Earlier on Monday, it was reported that Dr Goh was being sued by the judicial managers of IPP. The suit had been filed late in the evening of Friday (Oct 2) in the High Court by LVM Law Chambers, the legal representatives of Deloitte & Touche, IPP’s judicial managers.
Deloitte & Touche are seeking to recover the said amount, plus interest, alleging that the funds were used in “non-existent or sham transactions” made between June and July last year.
Dr Goh said that he was “surprised that the judicial managers have commenced an action so unilaterally”, saying that he had not been asked by them for his full side of the story.
Dr Goh was a director of IPP from June 2011 to August 2019. IPP was placed under judicial management in September 2019.
“The board understands that Dr Goh’s lawyers, TSMP Law Corp, has exchanged correspondence with the judicial managers and detailed, with clear explanation, why there is no justifiable case against him,” said New Silkroutes according to the ST report.
“Dr Goh has been advised by his lawyers that the judicial managers’ allegations are without merit both on the facts and on the law,” it said.
“The board understands that Dr Goh has every confidence that he will be wholly vindicated when he defends himself in court,” it added.
As such, the nominating committee and the board, with Dr Goh abstaining, said they continue in their support of Dr Goh, reiterating that his character and integrity remain suitable for a director of the company.
According to Cordlife, its board and nominating committee had only recently heard of the lawsuit from Deloitte & Touche, adding that it believes Dr Goh “has the character and integrity suitable to continue as ID of the company” and that “given his qualifications, expertise and experience” it is in Cordlife’s best interests that he does so.
Last month, the judicial managers investigating IPP, a shuttered Singapore bunker supplier and bunker craft operator, submitted a filing to the High Court asking for more time to consider whether to take Dr Goh to court.
TISG reported on Sept 17 that IPP began to go under after the crew of a vessel chartered by the firm was charged over bunkering malpractices. The crew had tampered with a mass flowmeter, illegally using magnets to increase its readings to claim that it had delivered more fuel during bunkering operations than it was actually carrying.
IPP’s bunker craft operator licence was temporarily suspended by the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) last June. Dr Goh, an IPP director at the time, called MPA’s move “premature” and stated that the authority should have “discussed the incident with us giving us a chance to review the facts”.
On Aug 16, IPP and its parent company Inter-Pacific Group Pte Ltd filed for judicial management at the High Court and appointed Deloitte & Touche LLP as their judicial managers. Dr Goh left IPP four days later, after having been at the firm since June 2011. /TISG